Product Data Management in Manufacturing: Why is it Different Now?

Over the weekend I had a chance to think more about product data management and product data in manufacturing companies in a more generic context.  At a time when everybody talks about Big Data, I found an interesting perspective in a recent McKinzey study, Big Data: The next frontier in innovation, competition and productivity. One interesting fact that caught my attention is that:

McKinsey found that by 2018, the USA will face a shortage of about 1.5M managers who are fluent in data-management decision making.

Take a look at another document from Michael Driscoll’s article-Building a data startup: Fast, big and focused. During the same period of time, I think data management will go through significant shifts related to the evolution of technologies and their associated costs, e.g. CPU, storage, network, bandwidth, etc. Michael talks about the increased amount of startups interested in “data” related aspects. Take a look at this picture to see what I mean:

I found the following passage about the attack of the exponential important:

The question of why this style of startup is arising today, versus a decade ago, owes to a confluence of forces that I call the Attack of the Exponentials. In short, over the past five decades, the cost of storage, CPU, and bandwidth has been exponentially dropping, while network access has exponentially increased. In 1980, a terabyte of disk storage cost $14 million dollars. Today, it’s at $30 and dropping. Classes of data that were previously economically unviable to store and mine, such as machine-generated log files, now represent prospects for profit. At the same time, these technological forces are not symmetric: CPU and storage costs have fallen faster than that of network and disk IO. Thus data is heavy; it gravitates toward centers of storage and compute power in proportion to its mass. Migration to the cloud is the manifest destiny for big data, and the cloud is the launching pad for data startups.

It made me think about product data management systems in manufacturing companies and the cloud as a launching pad for data startups. This is can be a potentially next step for product management systems: to deliver the power of data management for less cost and in a more efficient way. The ability to process data, analyze data without setting up all data servers in a company can be a huge economical differentiator for manufacturing companies of every size.

I liked the “focused” piece in Michael’s article. The data problems cannot be solved with one big shout gun. Data services need to be focused on a particular problem. The problem Inforbix is solving is related to huge amount of existing product data in manufacturing companies, spread out different silos and creating the situation in which everybody in a company are struggling to find and assembly a right data view to take a decision. Reliance on spreadsheets is in the past. In the new era, when you can easily find information about manufacturing parts online rather than in your company data management system, you need to think how to solve it.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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